The Past 24 Hours or So – Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

Read Time: 5 Minutes

  • The U.S. reported 37,996 new cases and 408 additional deaths. Test positivity rates have increased in 34 states.
  • COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., eight months after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the country. The coronavirus is behind only heart disease and cancer among causes of death in the U.S., according to the CDC. 
  • The U.S. has had the worst response to Covid-19 of any major country, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Institute of Health, said.

“I think it’s pretty fair to say we may have the worst response of any major country,” Jha said during a Center for American Progress webinar. While he said that it could be argued that Brazil’s response has been as bad or worse, competing with Brazil for that title is “not where you want to be.” 

“We didn’t get here overnight. This has really been one mishap after another,” Jha said. “The single factor that really differentiates us from everybody else is denialism that has pervaded our entire approach.”

  • Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said that she wished the US shutdown had looked like Italy’s, which was under a total lockdown.

“I wish that when we went into lockdown, we looked like Italy. When Italy locked down, I mean, people weren’t allowed out of their houses,” she said.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, “We’d better be careful when we say ‘Young people who don’t wind up in the hospital are fine, let them get infected, it’s OK.’ No, it’s not OK.”

“They have residual symptoms for weeks and sometimes months,” he said.

Fauci said subsequent check-ups show that many “have a substantially high proportion of cardiovascular abnormalities, evidence of myocarditis by MRI and PET scans, evidence of emerging cardiomyopathies.”

  • Novavax announced it would proceed with Phase 2 clinical trials to determine if its coronavirus vaccine candidate showed positive results for patients.
  • President Trump has expressed enthusiasm for the FDA to permit an extract from the oleander plant to be marketed as a dietary supplement or, alternatively, approved as a drug to cure COVID-19, despite lack of proof that it works.

Oleandrin was promoted to Trump during an Oval Office meeting in July. It’s embraced by HUD Secretary Ben Carson and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a big Trump backer, who recently took a financial stake in the company that develops the product.

  • “Big surge in New Zealand,” Trump said. The country reported seventy-one cases in August. The U.S. reported 43,000 cases and 619 deaths Sunday. 
  • The nation’s two largest drugstore chains, Walgreens and CVS, plan to check patient temperatures and wear face shields for the first time when administering flu vaccines.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) cast doubt on whether negotiators would be able to break the impasse on a fifth coronavirus package, though he said that he thinks there needs to be another bill.
  • FHA mortgages have the highest delinquency rate in four decades. New Jersey had the highest FHA delinquency rate, at 20%. The state also had the biggest increase in the overall late-payments.
  • A Kansas high school teacher created what is believed to be the first national database tracking the effects of COVID-19 in K-12 schools.

The Google spreadsheet – which is updated every five minutes – chronicles total known cases, suspected cases, quarantined individuals, and deaths at every school reported by officials or covered by local news outlets. https://bit.ly/schoolscovid

  • Jimbo Jackson, principal of Fort Braden School in Tallahassee who survived Covid-19, is urging parents to opt for virtual learning for their kids.
  • Just a week into the fall semester, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said it would shift to remote learning for undergraduates after a number of coronavirus cases emerged.
  • 155 Colorado College students have been placed under quarantine for two weeks after a new student arrived on campus last Friday and tested positive for Covid-19.

The quarantined students have been told not to leave their rooms except to go to the restroom and only while wearing a mask.

  • At least 24 people tested positive for coronavirus in connection with a wedding reception in Millinocket, Maine. 
  • For the third consecutive week, the National Hockey League announced that it has received no new positive Covid-19 test results during the past week inside the league’s two hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton.
  • New Jersey reported 316 new cases and four additional deaths. The state’s rate of transmission climbed back above the key benchmark of 1 that indicates the outbreak is expanding.
  • Newark’s school district, the largest in New Jersey, will reopen the academic year with all-remote classes and no in-person instruction through at least the first marking period.
  • Gyms can open as soon as August 24 with 33% capacity and mask mandates, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said. 
  • Maryland established a hotline to report potential Covid-19 violations. 
  • About 6 million Americans plan to fly this Labor Day Weekend, according to data from travel management app TripIt. Approximately one million of those who have decided to fly over the holiday are headed to Florida which is struggling to rein in the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • At least five students and two teachers from Bradford County School District in Florida have been placed on quarantine due to exposure to Covid-19. 
  • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, notified the community of potential COVID-19 exposures at Kappa Sigma Fraternity House. 
  • A state agency says it is working to fix a data error on Iowa’s coronavirus website that lowers the number of new confirmed cases and therefore downplays the severity of the current outbreak, just as schools are deciding whether to reopen.

The glitch means the Iowa Department of Public Health has inadvertently been reporting fewer new infections and a smaller percentage of daily positive tests than is truly the case.

  • A Nebraska community theatre decided to go on with their summer production of “Mamma Mia” despite the current health crisis and now more than 20 of the show’s cast and crew have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Texas reported 51 new Covid-19 related deaths, bringing the total number of coronavirus related deaths to 10,034 in the state.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The U.S. reported 43,008 new cases and 619 additional deaths.
  • The multibillion-dollar effort to get a coronavirus vaccine on the market could see delays because researchers haven’t recruited sufficient numbers of minorities to join the clinical trials.
  • A school district in Arizona canceled its Monday classes after a “high volume of staff absences” created insufficient staffing levels.

The J.O. Combs Unified School District in San Tan Valley, Arizona, previously announced last week it would resume in-person instruction on Monday, but since that announcement, the district “received an overwhelming response from staff indicating that they do not feel safe returning to classrooms with students.”

  • For the ninth straight day, New York state’s Covid-19 positivity rate is under 1%. 
  • New York City’s “Tribute in Light” that honors victims of the September 11 attacks will go on, organizers said Saturday, after concerns about workers’ safety during the pandemic threatened to cancel the tribute.
  • A fourth coronavirus cluster has been identified by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • South Carolina reported 537 new cases and nine additional deaths. The state’s positivity rate as of Saturday is 11%. 
  • A White House task force report warns that the coronavirus spread in Georgia is “widespread and expanding” and “strongly recommends” a statewide mask mandate. 

Georgia remains without a statewide mask mandate. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Saturday said residents are urged to wear face coverings and take other precautions. The order would allow local governments to mandate masks, but only on their publicly-owned property, not at private businesses.

  • A third Cherokee County school will temporarily end in-person learning after more than a quarter of its students were quarantined and 25 people at the school tested positive. 

Creekview High School now has 500 of its 1,800 students under precautionary quarantine.

  • Ohio reported 40 deaths on Saturday, marking the state’s highest number of deaths reported since July 31.
  • More than 30 Nashville police officers enforcing mask requirements issued nearly 3,000 warnings, 25 citations and arrested one person this weekend.

Officers were in Nashville’s famed entertainment district over the weekend as part of the department’s enhanced mask enforcement initiative.

  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) insisted that his state’s Covid-19 cases are under control despite a 23% positivity rate.
  • School officials in Oklahoma say a student knowingly attended classes with the coronavirus on the first day of school, thinking it was safe to do so because he was asymptomatic.

Officials announced that another student also tested positive for the virus, and 22 students who came in contact with the two students are now quarantining.

Trump Administration

  • President Trump has told aides he’d like to hold an in-person meeting with Russian President Putin before the November election.
  • Democratic leaders announce they are scheduling an emergency Aug. 24 hearing for top U.S. Postal Service officials to testify before Congress after the agency sounded the alarm about its ability to handle increased mail-in-voting.
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told CNN that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “are looking at having a standalone bill” to provide funding to the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Pelosi said she is calling the House back into session this week to vote on a bill prohibiting the U.S. Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service.
  • White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN that he would be open to the idea of a standalone bill that contains only funding for the U.S. Postal Service. 

Meadows told CNN on Sunday that the U.S. Postal Service will not dismantle any mail sorting machines between now and Election Day.

  • The U.S. Postal Service announced it would stop removing mail boxes through late November following complaints about how some had been taken away.
  • Pentagon officials working on Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s cost-cutting review of the department have proposed slashing military health care by $2.2 billion, a reduction that some defense officials say could effectively gut the Pentagon’s health care system during a nationwide pandemic.
  • Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee reportedly told federal prosecutors last year that they believed President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner may have presented misleading testimony during the panel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump Jr.’s and Kushner’s accounts of a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign reportedly conflicted with the testimony of former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates. 

The committee also reportedly accused the president’s former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, former campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis and private security contractor Erik Prince of lying to Congress, which potentially carries a felony charge.

Protests/Racial & Social Justice

  • Leslie David Baker, the actor best known for playing Stanley Hudson on “The Office,” shared some of the racist online abuse he says he has received since announcing his plans to star in a spinoff series to show the “great deal of work that needs to be done here in America regarding racism.”

“For those of you who don’t believe racism is still alive in the world… here’s the proof,” Baker wrote on Instagram on Wednesday, alongside screenshots of messages he says he’s recently received. “Our goal has simply been to entertain and give the fans a quality series.”

Presidential Campaign

  • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris tweeted condolences to President Trump on the loss of his brother: “Mr. President, Jill and I are sad to learn of your younger brother Robert’s passing. I know the tremendous pain of losing a loved one — and I know how important family is in moments like these. I hope you know that our prayers are with you all.”

Harris tweeted: “Doug and I join the Biden family in sending our deepest condolences and prayers to the entire Trump family during this difficult time. Losing a loved one is never easy but know that we are thinking of you.”

  • Kamala Harris has support from a nontraditional corner as she seeks to become the country’s next vice president: Her sorority sisters.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the nation’s oldest African American Greek-lettered sorority, say they plan to help get Joe Biden elected after he named their sorority sister as his running mate.

  • President Trump is planning to deliver remarks on “a half century of Joe Biden failing America” in Old Forge, PA on the same day Joe Biden is set to give his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Coronavirus, Protests/Racial & Social Justice, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The U.S. reported 56,729 new cases and 1,229 additional deaths.
  • The WHO reported 294,237 new Covid-19 cases and 9,985 additional deaths worldwide.
  • President Trump said he disagreed with an assessment from CDC Director Robert Redfield that the United States could face the “worst fall” from a public health perspective if Americans do not follow guidelines to ease the spread of the novel coronavirus.
  • Leaders at the CDC were blindsided this week when President Trump announced that the agency could deploy teams to assist schools with safely reopening in the fall.

The announcement left CDC officials scrambling this week to train staff to be able to deploy if they are called upon, a senior official said. 

The surprise statement by Trump was reminiscent of early on in the pandemic when the CDC Task Force regularly learned about assignments during presidential briefings, finding out in real time along with the public, a senior official said.

The CDC official said the agency is expected to come up with a vaccine plan for schools in at least four states by October, even though there is no realistic expectation that a vaccine would be ready by then.

  • The FDA has granted emergency use authorization to a Covid-19 diagnostic test that uses a new, inexpensive method of processing saliva samples. 

The molecular diagnostic test can yield results in under three hours, researchers said, and up to 92 samples can be tested at once.

  • Covid-19 rates in children are “steadily increasing,” according to nCDC. Children make up more than 7% of all coronavirus cases in the U.S. with the number and rate of child cases “steadily increasing” from March to July.
  • Russia has started manufacturing its new vaccine for COVID-19, the Interfax news agency reported. 
  • The American Heart Association recently warned that coronavirus can cause “devastating” and lasting cardiac complications. 

“These aren’t the patients that are elderly and immunocompromised. They’re patients that are surviving this virus, but now they’re going to have a new chronic medical condition related to surviving this virus that we need to recognize and treat.”

  • President Trump said that Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence told him that players do not want to see the football season cancelled or postponed, after two major athletic conferences have done so already amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Three women were arrested in connection with an attack on a 17-year-old Baton Rouge, Louisiana Chili’s hostess after the employee refused to seat a party of 13 diners together, citing company COVID-19 social distancing policy.
  • Conservative pundit Bill Mitchell has been permanently suspended from Twitter, the social media platform.

“[Mitchell] has been permanently suspended for violating the Twitter Rules by using one account to evade the suspension of another account,” a Twitter spokesperson said in an email.

Mitchell confirmed the suspension in a post on the social media app Parler, though he asserted he was booted from Twitter over his stance on wearing a mask amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • MLB postponed two games between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates this weekend after a player on the Reds tested positive.
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has identified a third cluster of coronavirus cases since students returned to campus for the fall semester.
  • Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp (R) issued a new Covid-19 executive order extending the shelter-in-place order for the medically fragile, continuing the ban on large gatherings and maintaining health and safety protocols for Georgia businesses.

The order says local governments “who choose to impose a Local Option Face Covering Requirement” must not fine businesses, fine violators more than $50, or enforce masks at polling places.

  • A 15-year-old boy from metro Atlanta became the second youngest person to die due to complications from Covid-19 in Georgia. 
  • Florida reported 6,352 new cases and 204 additional deaths – the 53rd consecutive day Florida has reported more than 4,000 cases in a single day.
  • 7,234 children have tested positive in Alabama. Three children have died. 
  • The Wabash, IL County Health Department is looking for people who attended a “mini-prom”  on August 4 and may have been exposed to multiple confirmed cases of coronavirus.
  • Nine Oklahoma Sooners football players tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a break that began on August 8. “A relatively small number” of other players are also being isolated because of contact tracing.
  • An Oklahoma State University sorority is being quarantined after 23 sisters tested positive for COVID-19.

Officials were alerted Friday night and immediately put the house in quarantine, prohibiting anyone from leaving the facility, which is located off-campus

  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has convened a team of public health experts, bioscience executives, government leaders and philanthropists to push for accelerated research, development and production of low-cost, do-it-yourself diagnostic kits based on paper-strip designs that can be used frequently and produce results in minutes, similar to home pregnancy tests. No lab equipment or special instruments would be required.

Trump Administration

  • Trump expressed support for actions taken by his new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and denied that his administration was seeking to create delays in mail ahead of the November election and attempted to shift blame to Democrats for a lack of funding for the Postal Service.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democratic leadership are considering returning from August recess as early as next week to consider legislation addressing issues at the U.S. Postal Service. 

  • Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), the state’s top election official, has accused President Trump of trying to derail November’s general election by hamstringing the United States Postal Service.

“In Arizona, it’s against the law to ‘delay the delivery of a ballot.’ I’ve asked [Arizona] Attorney General [Mark] Brnovich to investigate recent changes at USPS, and whether or not the Trump administration has committed a crime,” Hobbs tweeted.

  • A small group of demonstrators held a noisy protest outside the Washington condo of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy amid growing concerns that he is gutting the U.S. Postal Service to help President Donald Trump win reelection in November.
  • President Trump will withdraw William Perry Pendley’s nomination to lead the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, a White House official confirmed to The Hill.

Pendley was a controversial choice for the role because he has previously advocated for selling off public lands. He has also been criticized for comments he made about Islam, the Black Lives Matter movement and undocumented immigrants as well as skepticism about climate change.

  • Following a catastrophic chemicals explosion in Beirut, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale said Lebanon will only receive financial support when its leaders enact reforms to finally respond to their people’s demands for good governance and to end corruption.
  • The U.S. is tracking the situation in Belarus after last weekend’s disputed election then a crackdown on protests, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
  • The White House said President Trump’s younger brother, Robert Trump, died on Saturday.

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • A rally by the far-right group Proud Boys turned violent in downtown Kalamazoo, MI. The chanting, mostly mask-less Proud Boys marched toward Arcadia Creek Festival Place waving American, Trump, and Gadsden flags and other symbols. Violence broke out soon after, with Proud Boys attacking counter-protesters with pepper spray, fists, kicks, and shoves.
  • At Stone Mountain, Georgia, police in riot gear dispersed right-wing demonstrators, some waving the Confederate battle flag and many wearing military gear, and groups supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, after fights erupted between the groups, some of whose members were armed.
  • A Georgia state trooper was arrested and charged with murder on Friday after he fatally shot a 60-year-old Black man who allegedly tried to flee during a rural traffic stop.

Jacob Gordon Thompson, 27, was booked on felony murder and aggravated assault charges stemming from the Aug. 7 death of Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis.

Presidential Campaign

  • In a move that marks a shift from previous nominating events when candidates are showcased and make a speech on the final night, President Trump will have a role in each day of the Republican National Convention later this month, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reported.

The president has also said he plans to accept the nomination from the White House, another unusual move for a party convention.

  • Newsweek has apologized after an op-ed it published about Sen. Kamala Harris drew an avalanche of criticism that it perpetuated a racist conspiracy theory about her eligibility to be vice president.

In the editorial, Chapman University law professor John Eastman suggested Harris, who was born in Oakland, was not a natural-born citizen because her parents were immigrants.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The U.S. reported 55,649 new cases and 1,216 additional deaths.
  • If the United States were to allow coronavirus infections to run rampant to achieve possible herd immunity, the death toll would be massive, especially among vulnerable people, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
  • CDC Director Robert Redfield doesn’t want to pressure schools into reopening, but wants them to do it “safely and sensibly.”
  • Surgical gowns, gloves, masks, certain ventilators and various testing supplies needed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic are on the FDA’s first-ever list of medical devices in shortage.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced four million free masks will be provided to the state’s most vulnerable residents, through a partnership with Ford Motor Company and the FEMA. 
  • The private health care technology vendor that is helping to manage the Trump administration’s new coronavirus database has refused to answer questions from top Senate Democrats about its $10.2 million contract, saying it signed a nondisclosure agreement with the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
  • A person who has recovered from COVID-19 will likely be safe from reinfection for three months, according to updated guidance from the CDC.

The information marks the first acknowledgement of a defined immunity period for people who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

  • The Department of Homeland Security announced an extension of the U.S. agreement with Canada and Mexico to limit nonessential travel through Sept. 21. It was the fifth extension since the measure was put in place in March.
  • Museums and cultural institutions across New York City can open – with restrictions – beginning Aug. 24, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Twitter. 
  • Columbia University and Barnard College in New York City jointly announced the decision to have all undergraduate courses given remotely for the fall 2020 semester.
  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced the implementation of a new, color-coded rating system that will revolve around a seven day, rolling cumulative positivity rate number.

Counties that are currently in the green or yellow will be permitted to go forward with school and athletics.

If any county goes into the red category, all schools in that county will automatically go 100% to virtual learning.

  • Seattle public schools will begin the school year with remote learning for most students. 
  • An Arizona school district that had planned to restart in-person classes next week in defiance of the state’s health benchmarks abruptly reversed course on Friday after staff members staged a “sick out” in protest.
  • 96% of California students will start the school year with distance learning, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said in a news conference.

Only 71% of districts are confident that students will have the technology needed for online learning. As such, California has partnered with many tech and office supply companies to ensure each student has a laptop or tablet and access to Wi-Fi.

  • Two coronavirus clusters have been identified at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • The St. Louis Cardinals will return to the baseball field on Saturday after a Covid-19 outbreak within the team forced a 16-day hiatus from games.
  • The Ohio Valley Conference will postpone all fall sport competition and championships due to “uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.”
  • The Cherokee County School District in Georgia reported 80 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 1,106 students and staff quarantined as a result of those cases, for the week – almost triple the number of students and staff that were confirmed Covid-19 positive the prior week and double the number in quarantine.
  • A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by an Arizona woman who claimed New York’s 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers from hot spot coronavirus states infringed on her “fundamental right to travel.”
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and Secretary of State Michael Adams announced an expansion of voting options for voters this November as the coronavirus pandemic persists.

The plan includes expanded eligibility for absentee voting, three weeks of in-person early voting ahead of Election Day, and relaxed restrictions on voter identification for those who were unable to get a driver’s license or photo ID due clerk’s office closures amid the pandemic.

Trump Administration

  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to serve in their current roles because their appointment violated federal law, the Government Accountability Office ruled.
  • Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith intends to plead guilty to falsifying a document to justify surveillance of a former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page as part of the 2016 investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.

Clinesmith is accused of altering an email that said Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was not a source for the CIA, even though Page had had a relationship with the agency.

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy acknowledged in an internal memo that his restructuring plans for the U.S. Postal Service, which have garnered severe criticism, have had “unintended consequences.”
  • President Trump would not say whether he agreed with Georgia congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene’s support of the QAnon conspiracy theory after hailing her as a “future Republican star.”
  • According to a complaint, detainees in an El Paso immigrant detention center have been sexually assaulted and harassed by guards in a “pattern and practice” of abuse, according to a new report by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune.

One woman was allegedly kissed and groped by several guards. 

  • Jose Arrieta, the Department of Health and Human Services chief information officer, abruptly resigned Friday after only 16 months in the position.
  • A pair of senior Trump appointees departed the CDC, a change at an agency that’s been heavily scrutinized for its response to the coronavirus.

Kyle McGowan, the CDC’s chief of staff, and Amanda Campbell, the deputy chief of staff, both announced their departures.

  • Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf tweeted, “We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of #COVID19. Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through September 21.”
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the United Nations Security Council for rejecting a U.S. resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran.

The council voted to allow the 13-year embargo to expire this October despite the protestations of the U.S., Israel and multiple Arab states.

  • Trump issued an executive order late Friday giving TikTok’s Chinese parent company,   ByteDance, 90 days to divest its U.S. operations.

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • A grand jury has indicted three police officers on charges of second-degree murder in the death of George Robinson in Jackson last year. 

According to the indictment, the three, who were Jackson Police Department patrol officers at the time, removed Robinson from his vehicle, body-slammed him on the pavement, and repeatedly struck him in the head and chest.

  • There has been renewed attention in the community of Harrison, Arkansas to remove a white pride billboard, including a new petition to take it down has drawn more than 9,200 signatures, after a video showed a protester getting threats for holding a Black Lives Matter sign under the billboard.
  • Louisville, Georgia city officials voted this week to remove the Market House pavilion, a building that was once used to sell slaves in the former state capital.

Presidential Campaign

  • The United States Postal Service is removing mail sorting machines from facilities around the country without any official explanation or reason given. In many cases, these are the same machines that would be tasked with sorting ballots.
  • All of New Jersey’s approximately 6.2 million registered voters will receive mail-in ballots to vote in November’s election in an effort to protect the state from during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy confirmed Friday morning.
  • The U.S. Postal Service sent letters to 46 states and the District of Columbia warning that delivery delays could mean that some ballots cast by mail in the November election won’t arrive in time to be counted.
  • A bipartisan group of state election officials wrote to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy last week, requesting a virtual audience to discuss concerns they have regarding November’s election, but a meeting has yet to be scheduled as tensions surrounding Election Day mount.
  • Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) announced that he had made a criminal referral to the New Jersey attorney general calling for a grand jury investigation into President Trump and United States Postal Services chief Louis DeJoy, alleging they have possibly subverted the November election.
  • President Trump at a news conference said he was willing to give the USPS more money — but only if Democrats give in on their demands in coronavirus relief talks.
  • The Police Benevolent Association, which represents roughly 24,000 members, gave Trump its endorsement. 
  • The union representing postal workers has officially endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s White House bid. 

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Coronavirus, Racial & Social Justice, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

Read Time 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 55,742 new cases and 1,485 additional deaths – the highest single day total for deaths since May.
  • The World Health Organization has issued new guidance advising people to postpone routine dental cleanings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Nearly three dozen current and former government health experts warn in a previously unpublished letter that the Trump administration’s new coronavirus database is placing an undue burden on hospitals and will have “serious consequences on data integrity.”
  • Based on a Duke University research, these are the types of masks that work best:

N95 masks, three-layer surgical masks, cotton masks, 

And these are the types that do not work as well:

Neck fleeces (gaiter masks), bandanas, knitted masks

  • The White House released new recommendations for schools as they prepare to reopen, however the recommendations are little more than basic hygiene tips and don’t outline what schools should do if they face coronavirus cases. 

The use of masks is recommended but not required for students, teachers or staff. They also “require students, teachers and staff to socially distance around high-risk individuals,” however it’s unclear how schools will go about doing that.

  • President Donald Trump announced a plan to send 125 million reusable masks to school districts throughout the country and deploy CDC teams to those that need help reopening for in-person learning.
  • Trump continued to push the false narrative that several states are in “fantastic shape” when it comes to the coronavirus.

“If you look at some of the states that had a flare-up recently, they’re all doing very well,” the president said. “Florida is going down. Arizona is going down, way down. They’ve done a fantastic job. California, as you know, is going down.”

NOTE: While new cases in Florida and Arizona are trending downward, they are not back to pre-June levels. California did experience some periods of brief decline in new cases but currently the average number of daily new cases is again on the rise.

  • Trump said: “I want to make it unmistakably clear that I am protecting people from evictions.

NOTE: His executive order does not prevent anyone from being evicted. It simply directs administration officials to “consider” whether “any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.”

  • President Trump’s senior aides acknowledged that they are providing less financial assistance for the unemployed than the president initially claimed. Senior White House officials said publicly that the maneuver only guarantees an extra $300 per week for unemployed Americans — with states not required to add anything to their existing state benefit programs to qualify for the federal benefit.
  • Fusion Health and Vitality, which operates under the name Pharm Origins, sold a product called the “Immune Drug”, which was advertised as lowering the risk of COVID-19 infection by 50 percent. The man behind the company is now charged with falsely promoting and selling the drug.
  • The Big East Conference postponed its fall sports and will assess the options to stage fall sports contests in the spring of 2021.
  • Churchill Downs racetrack has announced that the rescheduled Kentucky Derby will limit attendance to fewer than 23,000 spectators.

The new crowd figure represents less than 14% of the attendance record set in 2015. The Derby says 170,513 people attended that year.

  • November’s Masters golf tournament will be held without spectators.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order that allows schools and universities to reopen for the upcoming academic year. 

Social distancing and other protections would have to be strictly adhered to, he said, and students that want to continue remote learning must be accommodated.

  • North Paulding High School, the Georgia high school seen in a viral photo of crowded hallways, plans to move to a hybrid schedule. 
  • Cherokee County School District is temporarily closed for in-person learning at Georgia’s Woodstock High School with the reopening tentatively scheduled for Aug. 31.
  • One day after the Martin County School District in southeast Florida reopened for in-person instruction, an entire elementary school classroom was placed under quarantine, after a student began exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced 1,163 new positive cases, the single highest number of new positive cases the state has recorded since the start of the pandemic.
  • A Kansas prison is on lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak. 84 residents and 10 staff tested positive this week.
  • As Texas soars past 500,000 Covid-19 cases, state officials are redoubling their efforts to get residents to wear masks and practice social distancing.
  • Queen Creek School Board in suburban Phoenix voted to resume school with 100% in-person learning starting Aug. 17.
  • John MacArthur, the pastor of Grace Community Church, a megachurch in Los Angeles, defended the church’s decision to allow over six thousand people in for services Sunday, with no social distancing and no masks – defying California state orders amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

Asked about his disregard of coronavirus restrictions, MacArthur dismissed the responsibility for him to follow such guidelines.

Trump Administration

  • Channeling decades of racist attacks, President Trump claimed that his decision to scrap an Obama-era rule meant to quash racial discrimination would win the support of suburban women afraid of living near low-income housing projects.

Trump tweeted: “The “suburban housewife” will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge! @foxandfriends @MariaBartiromo”

  • President Donald Trump congratulated Marjorie Taylor Greene on her congressional primary victory, endorsing a Republican candidate with a history of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic remarks and who has embraced QAnon conspiracy theories.

“Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up — a real WINNER!”

  • President Trump went off on Bill Maher on Twitter, attacking him as “totally SHOT, looks terrible, exhausted, gaunt, and weak,” after the host of HBO’s “Real Time” delivered a mock eulogy for Trump’s funeral that said: “Some men look at the world and ask, ‘Why?’ Donald Trump looked at the world and asked, ‘What’s in it for me?’”
  • An Air Force helicopter was shot at from the ground and forced to make an emergency landing in Virginia, injuring at least one crew member, according to Pentagon officials. The helicopter had just left Joint Base Andrews, the home to the presidential aircraft Air Force One.
  • The State Department’s Office of Inspector General concluded that  billionaire New York Jets co-owner Woody Johnson, President Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, made offensive remarks to staff at the U.S. Embassy in London.

The inspector general’s office “learned, through employee questionnaires and interviews, that the Ambassador sometimes made inappropriate or insensitive comments on topics generally considered Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)-sensitive, such as religion, sex, or color.”

Such “offensive or derogatory comments, based on an individual’s race, color, sex, or religion, can create an offensive working environment and could potentially rise to a violation of EEO laws,” the IG report states, deeming that a “more thorough review by the Department is warranted.”

  • A Native American tribe with ancestral roots in the regions surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border is suing the Trump administration to halt construction on a new piece of the border wall, alleging that the development will trample over the tribe’s sacred burial grounds.
  • Trump once again falsely said that the money from his tariffs on Chinese products is being paid by China. Americans are bearing most of the cost of the tariffs, and American importers make the actual payments to the government.

Protests/Racial & Social Justice

  • The family of a dead woman whose breasts were allegedly fondled by the Los Angeles Police Department officer David Rojas who discovered her body is suing the officer and the city, the family’s attorney Gloria Allred announced this week.

“It is not only against the law, but it is also against all sense of human decency.”

While he was alone in the room with the corpse as his partner returned to their squad car, Rojas allegedly fondled the woman’s breasts.

The officer had reportedly attempted to deactivate his body camera, but was still caught on video due to a delay between the deactivation and when the device actually turns off.

  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced this week that the city will assess memorials, monuments and art as part of a racial healing and historical reckoning project, with the intent to analyze which figures may have a racist history, catalog the monuments, and, if needed, recommend their removal.

Presidential Campaign

  • The president’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner met recently with hip hop artist Kanye West. West has stepped up his efforts to be on the November ballot as part of an independent bid for the White House. The meeting comes as West has acknowledged his bid for president could siphon votes away from Joe Biden.
  • President Trump and allies in the Republican Party and on Fox News have quickly begun sexist and personal attacks against Kamala Harris, from Trump demeaning her as “angry” and “horrible” to commentators mocking her first name to comparing her to “payday lenders.”

Trump described her as “nasty” or “nastier” four times — terms he often uses for female opponents. After Joe Biden and Harris held their first joint appearance, Trump claimed without evidence that Harris was furious when she left the Democratic primary race after falling in the polls.

“She left angry, she left mad,” he said. “There was nobody more insulting to Biden than she was.”

Right-wing commentator, Dinesh D’Souza, appeared on Fox News and questioned whether Harris could truly claim she was Black.Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, mispronounced her first name and grew angry when corrected.

Eric Trump favorited a tweet, which was later deleted, that referred to Ms. Harris as a “whorendous pick.” Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, posted during Ms. Harris’s first speech as Mr. Biden’s running mate on Wednesday, “Kamala sounds like Marge Simpson.”

  • Twitter said Wednesday it plans to expand its rules against misleading information about mail-in ballots and early voting, a move that could have major implications for the social media platform’s handling of tweets by President Donald Trump and his allies.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

Read Time:6 Minutes

  • The U.S. reported 55,594 new cases and 1,326 additional deaths – breaking the 1,000 death mark after two consecutive days below that threshold. .
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide topped 20 million on Tuesday, more than half of them from the U.S., India, and Brazil.

Health officials believe the actual number is much higher than that tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, given testing limitations and the fact that as many as 40% of those who are infected have no symptoms.

It took six months or so to get to 10 million cases after the virus first appeared in central China late last year. It took just over six weeks for that number to double.

  • The American Medical Association and other health organizations urged US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to update Covid-19 testing prioritization guidelines, as resources are still limited and many patients are still waiting over a week to receive their results.
  • Obesity is linked with higher odds of having severe Covid-19 symptoms that require hospitalization –– and the higher the body mass index, the higher that risk of hospitalization, according to a new study. 
  • The Trump administration is considering a measure to block U.S. citizens and permanent residents from returning home if they are suspected of being infected with the coronavirus.
  • Researchers from Harvard University and University College London found that every state in the U.S. that enacted at least one physical distancing measure in March in an effort to slow the spread of the pandemic were successful..

Policies were so effective, physical distancing resulted in the reduction of more than 600,000 cases within just three weeks, according to the study.

  • The U.S. has entered into an agreement with drugmaker Moderna Inc to acquire 100 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine for around $1.5 billion, the company and White House said.
  • Johnson & Johnson could produce 1 billion doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine next year if it proves successful and would consider injecting healthy volunteers with the novel coronavirus if there are not enough patients for final trials, a company executive said.
  • President Putin said Russia had become the first country to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move Moscow likened to its success in the Cold War-era space race.

NOTE: Russia has yet to conduct large-scale trials that would produce data to show whether it works – something immunologists and infectious disease experts say could be a ‘reckless’ step.

  • U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar reacted to the announcement from Russia that it has approved a “world first” Covid-19 vaccine.

“The point is not to be first with the vaccine,” Azar said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” today. “The point is to have a vaccine that is safe and effective for the American people and the people of the world.”

  • Facebook said it removed seven million posts in the second quarter for sharing false information about the novel coronavirus, including content that promoted fake preventative measures and exaggerated cures.
  • President Trump insisted once again that colleges should play football and made the dubious claim that student athletes are strong enough to withstand coronavirus.
  • Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R) advocated for college sports to play in the fall. 
  • The Big 10 conference canceled its fall football season. It hopes to play in the spring.
  • The Pac-12 conference canceled the fall sports season including football. The conference says it would consider a “return to competition for impacted sports after January 1, 2021.”
  • Old Dominion University canceled all of its fall athletic season. 
  • The University of Massachusetts canceled the school’s 2020 football season.
  • New Zealand announced it was shutting down its largest city, Auckland, after four new cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the city, the first evidence of domestic transmission after being coronavirus-free for 102 days.
  • Many U.S. universities are revamping campuses to resume in-person classes despite COVID-19, requiring students to be tested, wear masks and socially distance, but some college town residents and critics say schools are putting profits before public safety.
  • Anyone attending a gathering of more than 100 people in New Hampshire will be required to wear a face covering, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced.
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) pushed for schools to reopen for in-person learning during a news conference, saying he knows the state can bring students back safely.

“If Connecticut can’t get their kids back into the classroom safely, no state can,” the governor said, citing the state’s diligence in wearing masks and social distancing.

  • The Bellmawr, NJ borough council voted to rescind the business license of Atilis Gym that has repeatedly defied a state order to close its doors under coronavirus restrictions.
  • North Carolina reported their first case in a dog in the state. On Aug. 3, an owner took their pet to the NC State Veterinary Hospital. The dog had signs of respiratory distress and died from his illness.
  • Cherokee County School District in Georgia is temporarily closing Etowah High School to in-person learning after 14 students tested positive for Covid-19.
  • The North Georgia State Fair scheduled for Sept. 23 to Oct. 3 has been canceled. 
  • Florida reported  5,831 new cases and 276 additional deaths – a record number of coronavirus-related deaths for the state.
  • There has been a 137% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in children in the past month in Florida.

On July 9, Florida reported 16,797 cases in children. By August 9, that number increased to 39,735 infections. 

  • Marion County, FL Sheriff Billy Woods prohibited his deputies from wearing masks at work.

“We can debate and argue all day of why and why not. The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t,” Woods wrote in an email.

The city council plans to meet Wednesday to consider overriding the veto.

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that 325 of Ohio’s school districts are planning to return to full-time in-person learning, making up about 590,000, or 38%, of public school students.
  • Roughly 100 students were sent home from a southern Mississippi high school on Tuesday after coming into contact with a teacher who was exhibiting mild COVID-19 symptoms. The only time students did not have their faces covered was during lunch, otherwise, they were required to wear masks in classes.
  • Tony Green, from Texas, thought coronavirus was a hoax and just a “rebranded flu” until a small gathering in June resulted in 14 of his family members becoming ill.

“It seems that the White House, the communication was really broken down … It seemed like it was being downplayed, ‘don’t panic, don’t worry,’ to the point where you just think, ‘OK, well, you know, if the President is not worried, if the White House isn’t worried … let’s go on with life,’” Green said.

  • California reported 12,807 new cases and 109 additional deaths. The high number of cases is due in part to a backlog caused by issues with the state’s electronic laboratory system. 
  • A California fitness trainer who had coronavirus and needed to be hospitalized and put into a medically induced coma for five days says he at first dismissed the virus and was skeptical of its severity. “I didn’t think it was real. I thought it was something that was made up.” 

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 8 minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 42,003 new cases and 427 additional deaths.
  • President Trump repeated his false assertion that children are “essentially immune” from COVID-19 while downplaying a new report showing nearly 100,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of July, and said he does not think it means schools should stay closed.

“There may be a case, a tiny, a tiny fraction of death, tiny fraction, and they get better very quickly,” Trump said at a press briefing at the White House.

  • According to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, there were 179,990 new Covid-19 cases among US children between July 9 and August 6.
  • President Trump lashed out at Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) after he criticized the president’s executive action over the weekend.

“RINO Ben Sasse, who needed my support and endorsement in order to get the Republican nomination for Senate from the GREAT State of Nebraska, has, now that he’s got it (Thank you President T), gone rogue, again,” Trump tweeted.

  • Sasse defended his opposition and indicated he would rather have the discussion privately with Trump – “since you moved our conversation from private to public, here we are.”

“On the topic that had you mad this weekend: No president — whether named Obama or Trump or Biden or AOC — has unilateral power to rewrite immigration law or to cut taxes or to raise taxes. This is because America doesn’t have kings,” Sasse wrote.

  • President Trump revealed that he is considering a capital gains tax cut in an effort to create more jobs.

NOTE: Studies have shown that reducing taxes on capital gains cannot be expected to generate significant new investment or jobs.

  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the administration is “prepared to put more money on the table” as stalled stimulus negotiations continue on Capitol Hill.
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) denied President Trump’s claim that Democrats called him to resume negotiations, and said he has not seen any evidence that the President is personally involved in the negotiations for the next coronavirus relief bill.

“Fables from Donald Trump,” Schumer said in an interview on MSNBC.

  • Actress Alyssa Milano revealed that she was hospitalized for complications due to COVID-19 in April and that she still had symptoms of the disease months later.
  • Actor Antonio Banderas disclosed on Monday, his 60th birthday, that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
  • The Mountain West Conference postponed all fall sports. 
  • President Trump is calling on college sports leaders to allow the student athletes to play this season.
  • The NHL announced no new positive test results during the past week inside the league’s two hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton.
  • 107 school districts in New York state haven’t submitted plans for reopening.

“How you didn’t submit a plan is beyond me,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If they don’t submit a plan by this Friday, they can’t open.”

  • A Cedar Knolls, NJ QuickChek cashier suffered burns when John Dedolce, 42, of Randolph, threw his hot coffee on her after she asked him to readjust his face mask.

Dedolce refused to fix his mask, prompting the cashier to cancel his order and ask him to leave.

Dedolce then threw the food he was attempting to purchase onto the floor and threw hot coffee at the cashier before leaving the store, authorities said.

  • A teen employee at Sesame Place had to undergo surgery after being punched by a man he told to wear a face mask. Police are still searching for the suspect.

The employee asked a man to wear a face mask, noting they are required in the park. Police say the man later confronted the teen at a ride and punched him in the face.

Park security chased the man, but he and a woman fled and reportedly were last seen driving away in a vehicle registered in New York.

  • The Cherokee County School District in Georgia reported that 826 students and 42 staff members are in quarantine due to possible exposure to Covid-19.
  • Florida reported 4,155 new cases and 91 additional deaths. The number of new infections is the lowest increase since June 23. 
  • More than 40 members of a family tested positive for coronavirus after an infected relative from another state attended a funeral in West Virginia. 

Several received medical treatment due to worsening conditions. The latest, a 2-year-old girl, was diagnosed Sunday night after being taken to a Huntington hospital with a high fever.

  • Twenty-two schools in Mississippi are reporting positive Covid-19 cases. There have been nineteen cases reported among students and fifteen cases among staff.
  • In Kansas, fifteen counties with mask mandates reduced coronavirus case numbers, Lee Norman, the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, told the Kansas City Star.

“Some counties have been the control group with no mask and some counties have been the experimental group where masks are worn, and the experimental group is winning the battle. All of the improvement in the case development comes from those counties wearing masks,” Norman told the Kansas City Star.

Trump Administration

  • President Trump said he has asked that the G7 meeting be postponed until after the election in November, after a previous delay due to Covid-19 concerns.
  • The deficit climbed to a record $2.8 trillion during the first 10 months of fiscal 2020, roughly doubling the biggest annual deficit, according to figures released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
  • The EPA is set to end requirements this week that force gas and oil producers to find methane leaks, meaning some leaks could go unaddressed even as methane is 25 times more impactful than carbon dioxide and a major contributor to human-linked climate change. The rules will roll back requirements on smog as well.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen in the highest-level meeting between officials of the two nations in decades. China, which considers Taiwan a part of the country, condemned Azar’s visit.
  • China sanctioned eleven U.S. politicians and heads of organizations promoting democratic causes after the Trump administration leveled sanctions against eleven individuals last week over Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong.

Presidential Campaign

  • In a tweet, the president announced the two locations being considered for his acceptance speech: ”The Great Battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and the White House, Washington, D.C. We will announce the decision soon!”
  • The Sierra Club, one of the nation’s most influential environmental groups, endorsed Joe Biden for president on Monday saying that “No president has been worse for our environment or our nation’s public health than Donald Trump,” and they are “confident” in Biden’s work for climate justice.
  • Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis tweeted a link to an article in which Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, asked people to stop misgendering her. Ellis wrote in the tweet: “This guy is making decisions about your health.”
  • Federal Elections Commission Commissioner Ellen Weintraub warned that a shift to mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic means there is a “substantial chance” that the results of the presidential and down-ballot races may not be called on election night.

“Let me just tell everybody, we’re all going to need to take a deep breath and be patient this year because there’s a substantial chance we are not going to know on election night what the results are.”

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • Hundreds of people swept through downtown Chicago early Monday, smashing windows, looting stores, confronting police and at one point exchanging gunfire with officers, authorities said.

More than 100 people were arrested according to Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown. Thirteen officers were injured, including a sergeant who was hit by a bottle. A civilian and private security guard were shot and wounded.

City officials said the seeds for the violent crime spree were sown on social media Sunday afternoon following an officer involved shooting in the Englewood neighborhood. Officers shot and wounded a 20-year-old man Sunday after he fired shots at them while being chased, authorities said.

“This was not an organized protest,” Brown said. “Rather this was an incident of pure criminality. This was an act of violence against our police officers and against our city.”

  • Portland police declared another riot on Sunday night after fireworks injured two officers during demonstrations around the Portland Police Association office. Police said protesters barricaded streets with dumpsters and fencing and a fire was lit on the sidewalk outside the police association office. 
  • The Seattle City Council approved proposals that would reduce the police department by as many as 100 officers through layoffs and attrition — an action supported by demonstrators who have marched in the city following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis but strongly opposed by the mayor and police chief.
  • Multiple police officers in Santa Clarita Valley, CA are under scrutiny after footage went viral showing them pointing guns at a group of Black teenagers shortly after the teens were attacked at a bus stop. 

In footage, three officers could be seen pointing guns at the teens, who had their hands raised, as people could be heard repeatedly yelling to them off-camera “It’s not them” and “It’s the other guy.”

The mother of one of the boys said the police arrived on the scene shortly after her son and his friends had been attacked by a homeless man. The man had initially approached her son and his friends to ask them “if they had any crack, then tried to take their things.” 

The man allegedly became aggressive, removed his shirt, and “pulled out a knife and whip,” attempting to stab the group.

  • Opponents of the Black Lives Matter movement have shared a viral video of the protesters interrupting a church service in New York, blasting them for protesting at a church, but an investigation reveals the video was shared without the context that its pastor has a history of racist and inflammatory comments.

The church’s pastor, John Koletas, is a self-proclaimed “bigot,” subscribes to the “Curse of Ham,” a fringe Christian belief that Black people are the descendants of Noah’s son Ham and cursed by God.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 Minutes

8/10

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 54,590 new cases and 1,064 additional deaths.
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates lamented the United States’ coronavirus “testing insanity,” which he said had caused the country to fall behind the rest of the world, much of which has begun reopening after flattening infection growth.

“A variety of early missteps by the U.S. and then the political atmosphere meant that we didn’t get our testing going,” Gates said. “It’s nonsense that any sort of travel ban we did was at all beneficial. That doesn’t pass the common sense test… and now we’ve executed our lockdowns nationwide with less fidelity than other countries.”

  • Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) blasted the unemployment benefits included in President Trump’s coronavirus executive actions, calling it an insufficient “country club fix” that will cut payments for millions of Americans. He added that it’s an “urban lie” to suggest that people receiving benefits are choosing not to work.
  • White House trade adviser Peter Navarro defended President Trump’s recent executive actions when pressed about why the president wasn’t present for negotiations with Congress and instead at his golf club. Navarro claimed that Trump is the “hardest working president in history and he “works 24/7 in Bedminster, Mar-a-lago, the Oval Office or anywhere in between.”
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended President Trump’s coronavirus executive actions, claiming that Democrats would be responsible for delaying assistance to Americans if they challenged them in court: “If the Democrats want to challenge us in court and hold up unemployment benefits to those hard working Americans that are out of a job because of COVID, they’re going to have a lot of explaining to do.”
  • Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, in a policy reversal, are now requiring customers to wear masks inside stores.
  • Eighty-two percent of K-12 teachers said in a new poll that they are concerned about holding in-person classes in the new school year, and 66 percent would rather teach their classes remotely.
  • North Paulding High School, the high school in Georgia that gained viral attention last week after photos emerged showing students, many without masks, in packed hallways says it will temporarily move to online learning after it was discovered multiple students and faculty contracted COVID-19 following its first week of classes.
  • MLB has postponed the St. Louis Cardinals’ three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, scheduled to begin Monday, due to recent positive Covid-19 test results. The Cardinals have now had 13 consecutive games postponed.
  • New York had the lowest one day positive infection rate since the start of the pandemic. New York had an infection rate of 0.78%.
  • Over 353 cars were stopped at New York City “quarantine checkpoints” in the first three days after being established. Approximately 1,100 masks were distributed as well.
  • Georgia reported 3,177 new cases and 13 additional deaths.
  • South Carolina reported 1,011  new cases and additional 18 deaths.
  • Florida reported 6,190 new cases and 77 additional deaths. This marks the thirteenth consecutive day the state has reported more than 6,000 cases in a single day.
  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) pleaded with residents to wear masks during a press conference Sunday, calling it “common sense.”  His statement comes after announcing new rules on Friday designed to better enforce mask requirements and give local authority guidelines to enforce compliance.
  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) tweeted a picture of a crowded beach Sunday, saying that the crowds and “reckless behavior” will make the city shut down parks and the lakefront.
  • Texas reported 4,789 new coronavirus cases and 116 additional deaths.
  • Nevada reported 811 new coronavirus cases and 8 new deaths. A concerning 11.3% daily positivity rate was reported
  • California’s Department of Corrections reported a San Quentin State Prison employee is the eighth to die from Covid-19.

Trump Administration

  • President Trump denied reports the White House had reached out to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem about adding his face to Mount Rushmore, but he said “based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me!”

Presidential Campaign

  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he wants President Trump to deliver his nomination speech “miles and miles away” from the White House grounds in a recent interview.

The White House chief of staff’s remarks come after the president indicated last week that he might deliver his nomination speech from the White House after he had backtracked from plans to give the speech in Jacksonville. 

  • White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said that the U.S. is aware of efforts from foreign adversaries to interfere in the U.S. 2020 elections, claiming that “there will be severe consequences for any country that attempts to interfere with our free and fair elections.” The comments came after a U.S. intel official said China, Russia and Iran were actively working to meddle in the election.
  • President Trump has used official White House travel to visit swing states and give de facto campaign speeches in front of friendly audiences in recent weeks, as he blurs the lines between governing and campaigning during a pandemic that has halted large-scale rallies.
  • Former first lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich will reportedly be featured speakers on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, representing a broad ideological cross-section that looks to symbolize presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s push for unity in his race against President Trump.

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • A blistering letter from DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton demands answers from the Trump administration about the Secret Service’s treatment of two Black moms at the National Mall who say they were handcuffed, separated from their young crying babies, and that an officer pointed a rifle at the head of one of the women for roughly 45 minutes before officers eventually let them go.
  • The Louisville Metro Police Department has announced it will be clamping down on protest caravans as demonstrations have continued in the city over the past few months following the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

The department said all “pedestrians must stay out of the streets” going forward and that “cars and pedestrians will not be allowed to block intersections for any length of time.”

  • NBCUniversal has parted ways with NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy after allegations of homophobic, sexist and racist behavior that also included claims Telegdy cultivated a toxic work environment.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Coronavirus, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 53,923 new cases and 1,088 additional deaths. Twelve of the last fifteen days have seen deaths in excess of 1,000. Two of the sub-1,000 days were Sundays when states’ reporting of numbers is traditionally lower.
  • The United States has now recorded more than 5 million people infected.
  • Five hundred seventy children in America, most of them previously healthy, have experienced an inflammatory syndrome associated with Covid-19 called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C. Most became so ill that they needed intensive care, according to a new report from the CDC.
  • A new report by the CDC reveals that Hispanic and Black children have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic at a disproportionate rate, underscoring how minority communities across the country have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that the chances of scientists creating a highly effective vaccine — one that provides 98% or more guaranteed protection — for the virus are slim.
  • President Trump announced he was issuing multiple executive actions designed to provide relief to millions of financially struggling Americans after talks between his aides and Democratic leaders on a new pandemic relief package broke down this week.

Speaking from his golf club in Bedminster, NJ, Trump said his orders would provide $400 per week in unemployment benefits, which is $200 less than the supplemental benefit that expired at the end of July. States will cover 25% of the costs while the federal government will cover 75%.

Trump also said he would suspend payments on some student loans through the end of the year, protect renters from being evicted from their homes, and instruct employers to defer certain payroll taxes through the end of the year for Americans who earn less than $100,000 annually.

It’s unclear where Trump will get the money to pay for the actions and whether they will face legal challenges.

  • Several GOP senators voiced discomfort regarding President Trump’s issuing of four executive orders meant to address the economic fall out of the coronavirus and bypassing Congress.

Some members of the president’s party took issue with the move, asserting that Congress should be legislating.

  • An official from a northeastern state run by a Democratic governor laughed on Saturday when asked about President Donald Trump’s executive action asking states to pay 25% of the $400 unemployment relief.

“We don’t have that money,” the official said.

The official went on to say they were not given a heads up on this executive action and that in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, their funds are completely tapped.

  • Tens of thousands of motorcyclists swarmed the streets of Sturgis, SD on Saturday for an annual rally despite objections from residents — and with little regard for the coronavirus.

The herds of people overran every street in town, making no effort to keep six feet apart. Few masks could be seen, and free bandannas being passed out were mostly folded, or wrapped around people’s heads.

  • Johns Hopkins University is moving to remote learning and reducing undergraduate tuition by 10 percent for the fall term.
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst backtracked on a previous plan to let students enrolled in online classes live on campus. Just weeks before the semester is scheduled to begin, the university said only a small subset of students “enrolled in essential face-to-face classes” would be allowed into dorms and dining halls.
  • Officials at Harvard said that they plan to allow up to 40 percent of undergraduates, including the entire freshman class, to return to campus for the fall, but that all instruction would be delivered online.
  • The Mid-American Conference has postponed its entire fall sports season, becoming the first FBS conference to make the drastic decision because of ongoing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
  • South Carolina reported  1,178 new cases and 67 additional deaths.
  • In a new “Fight the Spread” campaign, South Carolina health officials are encouraging residents to fight the spread of Covid-19 as evidence increases about “high rates of infection in people who do not have symptoms and don’t know they are infectious.” 

Residents are urged to wear masks, practice social distancing and get tested.

The state’s current positivity rate is 15.9%,

  • Illinois reported more than 2,000 new Covid-19 positive cases for the second day in a row. The 2,190 new cases are the highest daily reported number since May 24.
  • Wisconsin reported 1,165 new cases –  its highest single-day number. 
  • Texas reported 6,959 new cases and 247 additional deaths.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) extended his disaster declaration for all Texas counties. 
  • Texas’ 7-day Covid-19 positivity rate has risen to 19.41% — the highest average since the pandemic began.
  • California reported 7,371 new cases and 178 additional deaths.

Trump Administration

  • TikTok has plans to sue the Trump administration over President Trump’s executive order on Thursday that targeted the Chinese-owned app, a person with direct knowledge of the pending complaint told NPR.

NPR’s source said that the wildly popular video app could file the lawsuit as early as Tuesday, adding it will be filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, where the company’s American headquarters is located.

  • White House Trade Advisor Peter Navarro and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin clashed in front of President Trump on Thursday before he signed an executive order requiring the Chinese parent company of TikTok, called  ByteDance, to sell the app within 45 days or see it banned in the U.S.

Aides present at the meeting told the Washington Post that Mnuchin pushed for tech giant Microsoft to look into purchasing TikTok while Navarro pushed for a complete ban of the app in the U.S. and accused Mnuchin of being too soft on China, leading to their argument in front of the president. 

Sources described the interaction to the Post as a “knockdown, drag-out” brawl.

  • Jewish and Muslim advocacy groups came out against  retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, President Trump’s pick for ambassador to Germany, after a series of past controversial remarks about the Holocaust, Jews and use of force against civilians were unsurfaced this week. 

Presidential Campaign

  • Joe Biden blasted President Trump’s executive order to cut payroll taxes as “a reckless war on Social Security.”

“He is laying out his roadmap to cutting Social Security,” Biden said. “Our seniors and millions of Americans with disabilities are under enough stress without Trump putting their hard-earned Social Security benefits in doubt.”

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

Read TIme: 6 Minutes

  • The U.S. recorded 54,184 new cases and 1,251 additional deaths on Thursday. 
  •  The U.S. recorded 52,810 new cases and 1,388 additional deaths on Wednesday. 
  • Masks continue to be one of the most effective ways to prevent Covid-19 transmission and there are many different types that serve this purpose, Dr. Sanjay Gupta explained.

“There was a great study out of Lancet which basically said the likelihood of me transmitting the virus if I didn’t have a mask on was 17% or 18%. If I did have a mask on, it was closer to 3%. You are talking about a sixfold difference, potentially. It is not perfect but it can really help,” Gupta said.

  • The CDC does not recommend people use masks with valves or vents during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new mask recommendations.

The valves may provide the wearer more comfort, since the valves allow air to escape from the mask and can keep people cooler, but the valves also allow the virus to escape from the mask. Taping over the vents is recommended.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci,said goggles  or a face shield can serve as an extra degree of protection for teachers who are in close contact with children.

Fauci said that if he were in a classroom with children who often don’t cover their sneeze or cough, he “might very well” wear goggles.

  • Fauci said he wishes testing for Covid-19 in the country had worked out better. When asked about people waiting to get a test result back five or seven days later – he said it’s been “very difficult” to defend the government’s efforts on testing.
  • Fauci warned that if the United States does not have a unified response against Covid-19, the country is at risk of continuing to “smolder.”
  • Contradicting President Trump’s repeated claims it will “go away,” Fauci said the world may never eradicate coronavirus.
  • Researchers behind an influential model at the University of Washington are now projecting that the US death toll could reach nearly 300,000 by December 1 – but that can be changed if consistent mask-wearing occurs.
  • Gilead Sciences, the company that makes remdesivir, said it has increased its manufacturing capabilities of the antiviral drug “to meet real-time global demand starting in October.”
  • A potential coronavirus vaccine should not have any “political spin attached to it,” Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health said. 
  • President Trump said he was “optimistic” a potential coronavirus vaccine could be ready by Nov. 3, noting that, while “It wouldn’t hurt” his chances for reelection, he was doing it “to save a lot of lives.”
  • The State Department lifted its global level 4 travel “Do Not Travel” advisory after more than four months of warning US citizens against traveling abroad.

However, there are currently only nine countries that allow U.S. citizens to enter freely and twenty-three that have restrictions. All other countries ban U.S. citizens entry. 

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said that he hopes the US will reconsider its decision to withdraw from WHO – and that the problem the withdrawal creates is not financial, but the lack of solidarity between global leaders.
  • Another 1.2 million Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits last week, down from the prior week’s 1.4 million claims.
  • President Trump tweeted that his staff is working on a possible executive order addressing some of the components of the stimulus negotiations.

“Upon departing the Oval Office for Ohio, I’ve notified my staff to continue working on an Executive Order with respect to Payroll Tax Cut, Eviction Protections, Unemployment Extensions, and Student Loan Repayment Options.” 

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she remains optimistic that despite hard negotiations, “we will” find a solution and come to an agreement on a new relief bill.
  • Twitter restricted President Trump’s campaign from tweeting after its account shared a video containing false claims about the coronavirus.

The tweet, a video of Trump’s interview with Fox News in which he said children are “almost immune” to the virus, “is in violation of the Twitter Rules on Covid-19 misinformation.”

  • 62 of the largest school districts accounting for nearly 7 million students will start with full online learning.
  • Major League Baseball has made several strict changes to its health and safety protocols in the wake of recent Covid-19 outbreaks.

Coronavirus-related postponements started after 21 members in the Marlins, including 18 players, tested positive for the virus. Earlier this week, an outbreak among Cardinals’ players and staff raised further questions about MLB’s plans to safely hold the season amid the pandemic.

  • Out of a total of 2,880 players in the National Football League, there are 66 who have opted out of the upcoming season due to the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • More than 1,000 Big Ten college football players released a letter, writing that the NCAA “has had ample time to prepare for the safe return of its athletes to competition, yet it has done nothing.”
  • President Trump agreed to continue paying for the full cost of National Guard troops deployed to help with the coronavirus response in just two states — Texas and Florida — after their Republican governors appealed directly to him.

Other states will now have to pay a quarter of the cost of National Guard deployments in their states, despite their governors also requesting the federal government continue to foot the entire bill.

  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said the state is committing $266 million to school reopening efforts
  • Pennsylvania’s health and education departments jointly recommended that pre-K-12 school and recreational youth sports be postponed until at least Jan. 1 “to protect children and teens from Covid-19,” according to a release from Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) office.
  • Georgia reported 3,250 new cases and 42 additional deaths – raising the state total to over 4,000. 
  • Four students from three Georgia high schools who attended classes in person this week have tested positive.
  • At least two high school students at North Paulding High School in Dallas, GA have been suspended after sharing video and photo of how congested their hallways were during the pandemic with mostly maskless students. 
  • Florida reported 7,650 news cases and 120 additional deaths.
  • At least 53 Florida Hospitals have reached intensive care unit capacity and show zero ICU beds available. Another 33 hospitals have 10% or less ICU capacity available.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said shutting down youth sports if athletes tested positive for Covid-19 was “not an option.”

DeSantis wants to “give the fans what they want” when it comes to sports returning to schools and college campuses this upcoming school year.

“If they bring something back to the house, I mean, as much as I wouldn’t want that, I would rather take that risk,” DeSantis siad.

  • Hillsborough County Schools in Florida voted to start the school year with four weeks of remote learning.
  • Hours after he tested positive for the coronavirus, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced a second test had come back negative.
  • Ninety-one people in Ohio were infected with coronavirus after an infected man attended church services. 
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) has extended the state’s mask mandate for another 30 days.
  • With Michigan experiencing outbreaks at child care centers and camps, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed an executive order requiring face coverings to be worn at these locations.
  • Illinois reported 1,953 new cases – the highest single-day count since May 24. There were 21 additional deaths.
  • The president of the South Dakota State Medical Association says he is “concerned” about the upcoming City of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

About 500,000 people are estimated to have attended the rally last year, and the city’s mayor said there won’t be mask requirements or travel restrictions for out-of state visitors this year.

  • Texas reported  7,598 new cases and 306 additional deaths and a jump in the positive infection rate to above 17%.

Hospitalizations decreased for the third day in a row.

The positivity rate continues to climb, at 17.05% as of Aug. 5. The positivity rate was just 12.09% one week ago.

  • Hidalgo County, Texas’ shelter-at-home order has been extended another two weeks.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post